Heritage High Football Kicks Off Season With Legacy Ceremony

A large crowd gathered in the Heritage High School gym Friday night to pay tribute to the school...

A large crowd gathered in the Heritage High School gym Friday night to pay tribute to the school's football teams.
Family members, friends and supporters crowded into the Heritage High School gymnasium Friday evening to help this year's football teams kick off the season.

Applause and cheers rang out in the gym for the varsity, junior varsity and freshman football teams during the school's Legacy Ceremony, a tradition that's been held at Heritage since the school's inception in 2008.

"I've never been to a high school that does this, so it's something different," said Francine Aguilere, whose son, Daniel, is on the JV team. "It gives the team encouragement and support from the community."

During the ceremony, coaches delivered speeches designed to inspire and motivate the players for upcoming games. Performances by the cheerleaders, band and color guard excited the crowd, as well as the players. The main event took place when teammates paired up and placed giant red "H" stickers on each other's helmets. Parents scrambled down from the bleachers to take photos, and coaches shook hands with players, congratulating them on making the team.

"It's called 'The Placing Of The Sticker'," said JV coach John Phillips. "The 'H' represents the commitment they give to themselves, to the team, and for them to stay together and work as a family."

Later on, all three teams of Patriots spread out across the gym and performed their "Pride Drill," something they do before every game to get themselves pumped up. They chanted in unison, "PATS -- Pride, Attention, Team, School," as they huddled and jumped together.

"It's pretty exciting," said Principal Julie Zierold, who stood on the sidelines during the ceremony, beaming at the players. Zierold said she was especially proud when last year's varsity team won the CIF Central Division championship -- the school's very first CIF title.

"It was probably the highlight of my career to experience that with the kids," she said.

Varsity head coach Kraig Broach agrees with Zierold, and hopes to repeat as CIF champion this season.

"Last year was awesome," he said. "This year we're just going to focus on the group we have now, and make the most of it. I want to get us in a position to play well in the league and make the playoffs. It's as simple as that."

The varsity players also got the chance to show off their new uniforms. Now the school has football teams representing all three colors of the American flag: Freshman in white, JV in blue, and varsity in red. Broach said it's a nice change that distinguishes varsity from their other Patriot teammates.

After the ceremony, coaches thanked parents for coming out and posed for photos with players. Parents of varsity players were especially eager to meet and thank Broach for the work he does with their sons. Reggie Murphy, captain of the varsity team, described why Broach is so well liked.

"He's very funny, very knowledgeable, and also a great man," he said. "He takes care of what he has to do, and watches over us."

Murphy is a linebacker and wide receiver. As captain, he looks out for the team and makes sure they stay sharp. Thanks to the Heritage athletic program and coaches like Broach, Murphy said he won a full-ride scholarship to play football at San Diego State after he graduates.

Murphy was a junior on the varsity team last year when it won the CIF championship. He said winning the title felt “indescribable,” but he hopes to feel that way again this season.

Heritage opens the season Aug. 29 at La Quinta. For a complete list of games, visit www.puhsd.org/hhs and click on the "Athletics" tab.

Varsity head coach Kraig Broach poses with team captain Reggie Murphy.

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